Big Bang (Korean: 빅뱅; often stylized as BIGBANG) is a South Korean boy band formed by YG Entertainment. Consisting of members G-Dragon, T.O.P, Taeyang, Daesung, and Seungri, they officially debuted on August 19, 2006. Predominantly a hip hop group, Big Bang found success with their breakthrough hit "Lies," which stayed at number one on major Korean music charts for a record-breaking seven consecutive weeks. The group received the Song of the Year award at the 2007 Mnet Korean Music Festival.
Big Bang's follow up releases furthered their success and popularity, spawning chart-topping hits "Last Farewell" and "Haru Haru." After receiving the Artist of the Year award from the 2008 Mnet Korean Music Festival, the group expanded their endeavors to Japan, winning three awards at the 9th MTV Video Music Awards Japan. Amidst their Japanese promotions, the members branched out to do solo activities; Taeyang and G-Dragon released solo albums, G-Dragon and T.O.P formed a sub-unit, Seungri and Daesung acted in musicals and hosted variety shows, and T.O.P became a highly acclaimed film star.
After a two-year hiatus in South Korea, Big Bang reunited in 2011 with their album Tonight. Promotions, however, were cut short when multiple members encountered legal issues. By the end of the year, Big Bang emerged as the inaugural Best Worldwide Act winner at the 2011 MTV Europe Music Awards. Three months after their win in Europe, Big Bang released their most successful physical album, Alive, the first Korean album to chart on Billboard 200, before embarking on their first ever world tour which concluded in early 2013. Labeled as the "Nation's Boy Band," the members' involvement in composing and producing their own music, most notably G-Dragon's, has earned the group respect and praise from the music industry. They currently hold the record for being the all-time best-selling artist in Cyworld.
2000-2007: Formation and debut:
Prior to the group's debut, a few of the members were already exposed to the entertainment industry. G-Dragon and Taeyang were the first ones to receive training under YG Entertainment at the age of eleven. T.O.P was an underground rapper under the stage name "Tempo". One of his most popular track was "Buckwild" with NBK Gray. After G-Dragon was approached by YG-Entertainment for possible candidates to start a boy group, G-Dragon contacted T.O.P, with whom he was childhood friend with, leading to the latter to audition in. Seungri first appeared on the reality television series Let's Cokeplay: Mnet Battle Shinhwa, a show in which idol group Shinhwa search for members to make up the "second-generation Shinhwa." The original lineup consisted of 6 members: the aforementioned ones along with Daesung and So-1, who were both auditioned in. Their formation was documented on television; prior to their official debut, So-1 was dropped.
Big Bang held their official debut on August 19, 2006 at the Gymnastics Arena in Seoul Olympic Park during the YG Family 10th Year Concert. On September 23, 2006, the group had their debut performance on television broadcast. Following the performance, the group's first single, Bigbang, was released. It contained the songs "We Belong Together", featuring labelmate Park Bom; "A Fool's Only Tears" (Korean: 눈물뿐인 바보; Revised Romanization: Nunmulppunin Babo); and "This Love", an adaptation of the American rock band Maroon 5 song, rewritten and performed by G-Dragon. The single went on to sell nearly 40,000 copies. The second single, BigBang Is V.I.P, was released in September, eventually topping 32,000 copies sold. Their last single, Bigbang 03, followed, with final sales nearing 40,000 copies. At the end of December 2006, Big Bang held their very first concert, The Real. The following month, their debut album, Since 2007, was released, selling 48,000 copies by the end of February 2007.
2007-2008: Breakthrough success and Japanese debut:
On February 8, 2007, Big Bang released their live concert album, The First / Real Live Concert, which sold 30,000 copies by the end of the year. The group also began their Want You tour, visiting five cities: Incheon, Daegu, Changwon, Jeonju and Busan. Their first EP, Always, was also released in 2007, and marked several changes for the group. Though previously already writing and composing, the group has decided to take more control over their music. G-Dragon composed and wrote most of the tracks included in their first EP including the title single, "Lies" (Korean: 거짓말; Revised Romanization: Geojitmal). The EP also saw the introduction of electronic music for Big Bang. Reception was fairly positive, most notably in regards to the song "Lies", which critics described as "through the roof". Released as the lead single, it became their first number one hit. The album itself sold 87,000 copies.
Their second EP, Hot Issue, released that same year, followed its predecessor's success: the lead-single, "Last Farewell", (Korean: 마지막 인사; Revised Romanization: Majimak Insa) topped various charts, including the Juke-On's chart for eight consecutive weeks. It also garnered the "Song of the Month (Digital Music)" award from Cyworld. Tickets for their Big Bang Is Great concert were also reportedly sold out in just nearly 10 minutes.
At the end of 2007, it was reported that members of the band were hospitalized from over-performing and exhaustion, halting their promotional activities. Reports were later released that Big Bang's albums and singles were in very high demand, causing the record company to reprint and repackage them for re-release. Riding on the success of their EP, the group collected numerous awards, including "Best Male Group" and "Song of The Year" from the 2007 Mnet Asian Music Awards. They later received the "Artist of the Year" award from the 17th Seoul Music Awards. The group earned a total of ₩12 billion ($11.5 million) by year's end.
As 2007 came to a close, Big Bang ventured overseas to Japan. Their first Japanese extended play, For the World, released in early 2008, charted at number 10 on the Oricon chart with a little promotion only. The group also held a concert at the JCB Hall in Tokyo Dome City. Big Bang returned to South Korea after their promotions in Japan ended. Although group activities were delayed due to solo projects, their third EP of 2008, Stand Up, was released. Featuring Daishi Dance and the Korean rock-band No Brain, Stand Up exceeded the 100,000 mark in sales. "Day By Day" (Korean: 하루하루; Revised Romanization: Haru Haru), the lead single, topped several online charts and held the number 1 position for six consecutive weeks. Following the lead single's success, other songs also charted within the Top 20, with "Heaven" reaching the second spot, "Oh My Friend" hitting the ninth spot, "A Good Man" at number 12, and "Lady" peaking at number 16 - a total of five songs in the Top 20 for the group.
During the release of their Korean materials, Big Bang released the Japanese song, Number 1, from their album of the same name, performing the song on Japanese radio programs and TV shows, the album peaked at number three on the Japan's Oricon daily album chart. Their Korean follow-up album, Remember, also released in 2008, yielded the number 1 single, "Sunset Glow" (Korean: 붉은노을; Revised Romanization: Byulkeun Noeul). "Strong Baby", performed solely by Seungri, was released as the second single. The album went on to sell over 200,000 copies. Big Bang received their second "Artist of the Year" award from the 2008 Mnet Asian Music Awards. At the end of 2008, it was reported that Big Bang earned a total of ₩36 billion ($34.5 million).
2009-2011: Solo endeavors, Japanese activities, and Tonight:
While the group was on a break in early 2009, the members pursued solo activities. They reunited to collaborate with 2NE1, their label's new girl group who had been dubbed as "The Female Big Bang", for the song "Lollipop". A music video was also filmed for promotion. Initially used to promote a cellphone, "Lollipop" reached the number one spot on various online charts. Big Bang also released their third endorsement digital single "So Fresh, So Cool" to promote the beer brand "Hite", although Seungri wasn't in the commercial due to the fact he was not of drinking age. Their first self-titled full-length Japanese album was released under Universal Music in August 2009 and was promoted with two singles: "My Heaven" and "Gara Gara Go!! (ガラガラ GO!!)." "My Heaven," a Japanese translation of their Korean single, "Heaven" (Korean: 천국; Revised Romanization: Cheonguk) from Stand Up, was composed by Japanese composer Daishi Dance and debuted at number 3 on the Oricon Music Chart. "Gara Gara Go!" charted at the fifth spot and the album itself peaked at number 3.
After their return to Korea, the members went back to their solo activities. On August 18, G-Dragon released his debut album, Heartbreaker, promoting it with the album's title track. The album went on to win the "Album of the Year" at the 2009 Mnet Asian Music Awards, selling over 210,000 units. Taeyang released two digital singles, "Where U At?" and "Wedding Dress" to promote his second album released in 2010. T.O.P joined the cast of the Korean thriller drama Iris, playing the assassin Vick. Daesung and Seungri both pursued various individual activities in acting and hosting. They later reunited to record the song "Koe wo Kikasete" for the Japanese drama Ohitorisama ( おひとりさま, One Person). The song was later released as a single, peaking at #4.
For several days in January 2010, Big Bang performed their 2010 Big Bang Concert Big Show in the Seoul Olympic Stadium. The following month, they embarked on their Electric Love tour in Japan. Although no official albums were recorded, 2010 saw the release of several singles for the group with promotional ties. The release of "Lollipop Part 2" in February, the follow-up to their single, "Lollipop"' with 2NE1, was used to coincide with promotions for LG Cyon's Lollipop phone. The single also reached number one on digital charts. Their next single, "Tell Me Goodbye", was recorded for the Japanese re-release of Korean drama Iris. The song proved to be popular and gained favorable reviews, winning the "Song of the Year" award at the 52nd Japan Record Awards. Additionally, tying in with the 2010 World Cup, the group released the song "Shout of the Reds" featuring the Korean rock band Transfixion and figure skater Kim Yuna.
For most of the year, the members individually promoted their own work, including the release of the GD & TOP unit with their collaboration album and the release of Seungri's first EP entitled VVIP. Big Bang also won several notable awards, including the Best 5 New Artists award from the 24th Japan Gold Disc Awards as well as the "Best New Artist" award. Near the end of May, the group received the awards for "Best Pop Video" and "Best New Artist" from the MTV Video Music Awards Japan 2010. They released their latest Japanese single "Beautiful Hangover" on August 25, 2010.
After nearly two-year hiatus as a full group, Big Bang returned to South Korea with their 2011 Big Show concert. They also showcased songs from their latest extended play Tonight, which went on to become a chart-topper upon its release on many Korean music charts. The album also became the very first K-pop album to reach the Top 10 on US iTunes chart and is the only non-English language album in the Top 100. The album had a pre-sale order of 10,000 copies in Cyworld, beating the record set by TVXQ's 6,500 copies back in 2008, and selling 100,000 copies in a week. Receptions for the album was positive, with Choi Jun of Asiae complimenting the group's new direction in their music, acknowledging that during the two years hiatus, the group's "style and musical sensibility had deepened." Seven days after the album's release, it was reported that Big Bang had already earned ₩7 billion (USD$6.6 million). Its lead-single of the same name became a chart-topper on the Gaon Chart. After promotions for Tonight was finished, Big Bang released a special edition album with two new tracks: "Love Song" and "Stupid Liar". "Love Song"'s music video on YouTube gained 2 million views within just two days. The group kicked off their Love & Hope Tour in May of the same year.
Big Bang won the 2011 MTV EMA's "Best Worldwide Act" award as representatives of the Asia-Pacific region with over 58 million votes. They also won the award for "Best Music Video" award with their "Love Song" music video at the 2011 Mnet Asian Music Awards. They also celebrated YG Entertainment's 15th anniversary by participating in the 2011 YG Family Concert Tour. This was followed by a release their third Greatest Hits album The Best of Big Bang on December 14, which contained a Japanese version of their all-time #1 hit "Haru Haru". The album topped the Oricon Daily chart on its first day of release and went on to sell over 14,000 copies in the first week, proving the group's consistent popularity. It was reported that Big Bang earned ₩88 billion (USD$84.5 million) in 2011 even though they had just promoted for half a year. The earnings included Big Bang's revenue concert for SBS's Big Bang Show, their 2011 Big Show Concert and their Love and Hope Tour in Japan.
2012-present: Alive, first world tour, and solo activities:
Beginning from January 20, 2012, YG Entertainment began releasing teasers for Big Bang's 5th EP Alive, which was released in both digital and physical formats on February 29. Preorders for Alive amounted to 260,000 copies in two weeks. Its lead single, "Blue", was released a week prior to the album's release and has reached the number one position on all major domestic charts. The EP was a commercial success, selling in excess of 200,000 copies in its first month of release. Internationally, Big Bang obtained 5 spots out of the Top 10 on Billboard K-pop's Hot 100 and charted at 150 on Billboard 200, making them the first Korean artist with a Korean album to do so. Their popularity also boosted them onto the Billboard Social 50, entering at #24. They later received recognition from notable sites such as Time magazine, and a photo was featured on the Grammy Awards homepage.
The album release coincided with their annual concert, Big Show 2012, held at Seoul Olympic Park Stadium from March 2-4 to a sold-out crowd of 40,000 fans. This marked the official kick off of their first world tour Big Bang Alive Galaxy Tour 2012, in partnership with Live Nation. It was directed by renowned choreographer Laurieann Gibson, with Big Bang performing at 21 cities over 13 countries. Concert footage from Big Show was broadcast in 160 countries through MTV World Stage, which pushed the promotion for their world tour. On March 6, 2012, the music video for "Fantastic Baby" was released on YouTube. This is currently the band's most popular song, having received more than one hundred eleven million views on YouTube.
The Japanese version of Alive was released on March 28 both digitally and physically, with 2 additional Japanese tracks. Included with the physical copy of their album was a bonus Japanese version of their hit song, Haru Haru. It sold over 23,000 copies on its first day of release and peaked at #2 on the Oricon charts. It eventually sold over 200,000 copies total and has since been certified gold by the RIAJ. Japanese promotions began with a performance at 2012's Springroove Festival alongside top American and Japanese hip hop artists. Big Bang was the first Korean act to be invited along with label-mates 2NE1. Following the success of their comeback, Big Bang released a special edition album titled Still Alive, on June 3. It featured four new tracks including two new Korean tracks of which their lead single was titled "Monster," as well as Korean remakes of the two additional tracks in the Japanese version of Alive. The album sold over 100,000 copies in its first month of release. A special Monster edition of their Japanese Alive album was also released on June 20, following its Korean counterpart.
The success of their special edition album further boosted the group's global recognition, peaking at #11 on the Billboard Social 50. The group toured extensively throughout the rest of the year, spanning several countries: Japan (May to June), China (July to August), South East Asia (September to October), and the Americas (November). After touring the Americas, the group went back to Japan for their "Special Final in Dome Tour," stopping at some of the largest stadiums in Japan including Osaka Dome, Tokyo Dome and Fukuoka Dome. Big Bang also performed in Hong Kong and England in December 2012. One concert was scheduled in London, England but another date was added to their tour due to popular demand. The group concluded the tour with concerts in Osaka in mid-January along with a three night stint at the Olympic Gymnastics Arena in Seoul later that month. On November 30, 2012, Big Bang received a total of three awards at the 14th Mnet Asian Music Awards, including Best Male Group and Artist of the Year. Leader, G-Dragon, also took home Best Male Solo award at the event.They also received the Best Fan category award at the Italian TRL Awards.
The following year, the members took a break from group activities to release and promote their own materials, including Daesung's first album D'scover, Seungri's second EP, Let's Talk About Love, and G-Dragon's second album, Coup D'Etat. T.O.P involved himself with the film, The Commitment, and also released the song "Doom Dada", while Taeyang returned as a solo artist with the release of his song, "Ringa Linga."
Music and lyrics:
See also: K-pop
During the early days of their career, Big Bang's music was predominately hip hop and hip pop, although they incorporated R&B songs into their albums as well. A writer for Yahoo! Japan once compared their early materials to that of American hip-hop artists such as The Black Eyed Peas, stating that their material included "catchy vocals, ... rap and characters".Always was noted for its change of musical styles from their previous efforts, with the group experimenting with EDM and setting it as the new music trend in Korea. G-Dragon later stated that they hoped "to reach even more fans" with the new direction. In 2008, they recorded "Oh My Friend", a rock-based song, with the Korean rock-band No Brain. In an interview, the group also expressed interests in covering the music genre trot.Alive (2012) was noted for being more "experimental" than their previous materials, with "Bad Boy" described as "nostalgic." The album was also praised for showcasing the group's voice instead of their usual autotune, being described as having "a mature kind of intensity."
Members of the band have branched out to other styles for solo projects, thus the group has been described as "rich in variety" for their fans. Taeyang's EP, Hot, was mainly a collection of R&B songs, with the singer stating that the genre was his "main focus". Daesung's first digital single, "Look at Me, GwiSoon" (Korean: 날 봐, 귀순), was a trot song, which drew criticisms due to Big Bang's image as "hip-hop artists". For his debut album, Heartbreaker, G-Dragon incorporated a mix of dance, hip-hop, and R&B songs. Justin Mccurry from The Guardian said that "each of the five members of Big Bang has his own individual look, and their musical range is equally eclectic, covering R&B, hip-hop, house, electro and pop." Producer and rapper Cho PD expressed appreciation for the group, stating how "idol singers like Big Bang possess the ability of being musicians." He was particularly fond of G-Dragon, describing how "in many ways Big Bang has evolved out of being an idol with the abilities they possess as musicians," noting how "G-Dragon can be counted as the main representative for this."
The group is known for maintaining tight control over their career and heavily involving themselves in the production of their music, as opposed to other Korean artists. Following the release of Always, G-Dragon began involving himself with the production of the group's materials, penning lyrics and composing songs, such as "Lies", "Last Farewell", and "Day by Day". His involvement was praised by the Korea Times, who described him as a "genius singer-songwriter". G-Dragon himself described the group as "an idol group not born of talent but through effort". A writer for Yahoo! Japan complimented the group for their involvement in their work, stating that "perhaps by each of the members' contributing to their own materials, not only do they become in sync with one another, but each person's personality stands out."
Big Bang are known for their lavish sets on stage, complete with choreography, costumes, and props. Big Bang is often choreographed by Shaun Evaristo. While they once relied heavily on street dancing for their moves, Big Bang have made a transition towards more choreography. Their dance moves have been widely copied and covered. One of the moves, which incorporates the group lifting their shirts to expose their abdomens, quickly gained popularity online and became one of the top searches on the internet. Another one, in which the group incorporates the idea of "jump roping" as a dance move, also gained attention from fans.
At the peak of Psy's "Gangnam Style," The New York Times journalist Jon Caramanica noted how Big Bang's concert in New Jersey was the "true wild heart of K-pop" as oppose to Psy, highlighting their brightly colored costumes, choreography, and stage performance. In 2012, they ranked #1 in Philippines's Top 3 Mall of Asia Arena concerts of 2012. When compared to Western artists such as Justin Bieber and One Direction, Big Bang's performance were noted for having their "edges ... crisper, the sound louder, the dancing sharper." They were ranked 3rd on the New York's Time list of best concerts in 2012 for their Alive Tour in Prudential Center, Newark.Tickets for the tour sold out in only a few hours, thus additional dates were added. In March 2012, Krista Mahr, Time magazine's South Asia correspondent, wrote an article about her first K-Pop concert at the Olympic Gymnastics Arena in Seoul, describing the group as "K-pop gods" for their stage presence.
See also: Korean Wave
Big Bang has received both praise and criticism. When foraying into the Japanese market, Time magazine described them as one of the "most promising" South Korean acts to venture into the country, while the Korea Times have called them "the icons of Korean pop music". In 2011, BBC declared that "K-pop bands, including Big Bang, are making their mark around the world," citing the group's contribution in YG Entertainment's economic growth.
While The Vancouver Sun described the group as an "ultra-stylized five-piece boy band from South Korea" and a "K-Pop sensation", the American financial news broadcaster CNBC have described them as a "carefully-selected, slickly-produced act" whose use of "synthesized bubble-gum pop sound, flashy outfits and video art" are pushing K-pop to the forefront of music globally. After the group won the 2011 MTV Europe Music Award for Best Worldwide Act,Google announced that its subsidiary YouTube would launch its own K-pop channel in recognition of the popularity and success of K-pop. The British daily newspaper The Guardian also published an article discussing the importance of how the win had "shed light on the rise and rise of Korean music across Europe." Additionally, after becoming the first K-pop band to enter the Billboard 200 music chart with their album Alive, Big Bang kicked off the Alive Tour in 25 cities worldwide. The tour ended in early 2013, and was attended by 800,000 concert-goers around the world. The group have attracted the attention of artists such as Jill Scott,Pixie Lott,A*M*E,Dakota Fanning,Nelly Furtado, and Grimes. The latter also stated that K-pop has influenced her musical style "more visually than anything else," in particular G-Dragon.
Citing the longest-running boy band in South Korea, Shinhwa as their influence and role model, Big Bang's own influence extends beyond the music industry, shaping major trends in the fashion industry. Dubbed as "Big Bang fashion", their style has gained a following throughout Asia. The group first adopted the "hip-hop" image concept for their debut. The release of Always in 2007 was accompanied by a change in image, with the group leaning towards a more preppy-punk style, including skinny jeans with Converse or high-top sneakers which became a still ongoing trend in South Korea. Taeyang also traded his cornrows for a faux hawk. Seen wearing brands such as Bape, 10 deep, Louis Vuitton, Jeremy Scott, and Phenomenon, Big Bang also wear custom printed hoodies for many of their performances and music videos. They were also credited for bringing back "old school" fashion into the mainstream, such as Nike and Reebok high-top shoes. Described as the "most fashionable" one in the group, G-Dragon is known to sport triangular scarves that were later nicknamed "Big Bang scarves". T.O.P also gained a following for wearing sunglasses during performances. The clothes that the members donned on stage have gained a cult among their fans and are sold in boutique stores such as DongDaeMun. In 2011, Big Bang collaborated with Japanese clothing retailer Uniqlo to create T-shirts in promotion of their Japanese comeback. It was reported that the items were "sold out within 15 minutes of the store's opening." While the group, in particular G-Dragon, have established themselves as a fashion icon by attracting the attention of Western fashion designers, the group has been criticized for appropriating hip-hop culture, specifically their use of clothes, color coordination, and hairstyles, during the early days of their career.
Due to their popularity and success, Chinese boy band OkBang was fashioned after Big Bang and were stated to have "many similarities to Big Bang in terms of musical style, wardrobe and hairstyles". Additionally, in their honor, their Big Show concert was chosen by the South Korean Touristic Committee for their Visit Korea from 2010--2012 campaign, crediting the group's "big economic impact on the country". Big Bang continues to be the face of South Korea when it comes to tourism. Their popularity across demographic groups has made them Korea's highest paid celebrities ever by endorsers, with an asking price of $1 - 1.5 million USD per endorsement.
Korean fan clubs play an essential role in the K-pop industry; their structure and operation is different from Western fan clubs. Each club has its own name and color: Big Bang's fans dubbed themselves the V.I.P. (named after the single of the same name) and hold crown shaped yellow light sticks. Credit for the spread of the "fan-rice tower," Big Bang has encouraged their fans to buy bags of rice and bring it to their concerts, who, in turn, donate the rice to a charitable cause. For their first show in months, 12.7 tons of rice were donated from 50 fan clubs around the world. Despite their Korean heritage, the group are noted for having an international multicultural fan community.
Awards and nominations:
Big Bang has amassed numerous achievements and awards, setting several records in their home country. They experienced their first success with the song "Lies," which would stay on the Melon Chart for over 54 weeks, followed by "Last Farewell", which topped various charts, including the Juke-On's chart for eight consecutive weeks. "Day by Day", which would go on to by the group's signature song, topped the charts for six consecutive weeks. Their lyrics and musical composition have resonated among fans and critics, having won multiple "Song of the Year" awards from numerous award shows. They were crowned "Artist of the Year" at the 17th Seoul Music Awards in 2007. Their success in South Korea mirrored their endeavors in Japan: the group won multiple Best New Artists awards during the early days of their career in the country. Their album Tonight (2010) became the very first K-pop album to reach the Top 10 on US iTunes chart and is the only non-English language album in the Top 100. With pre-sale order of 10,000 copies in Cyworld, Big Bang beat the record set by TVXQ's 6,500 copies back in 2008. Emerging as MTV EMA's 2011 "Best Worldwide Act" award, Big Bang became an international icon. Additionally their 2012 concert set the record for highest ticket sales in Taiwan. In 2014, they were listed as #2 on Forbes Korea Top 10 Celebrities of 2014.
Text from this biography licensed under creative commons license